As soon as Bonnaroo’s star-studded lineup releases to the public, you click the link. Your heart beats faster as your eyes drink in all the famous names: The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper and Flume. You can’t wait to go. However, you, like most festival goers, fret over one thing: the expenses. While you want to see dozens of your favorite artists live, you know the mere purchase of tickets stands as the first in a long line of impending fees. With the costs of travel, food and inebriating activities, single weekends easily cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. With all this in mind, take steps to save when you can.
Check out these 10 ways to cut costs when planning for and attending the next music festival on your bucket list.
1. Travel locally
Festival enthusiasts know the struggle of explaining their juggling torches through customs. If you want to avoid awkward airport encounters, travel locally instead. Driving under a hundred miles to a nearby music park or stadium saves you the trouble of getting a plane ticket. On top of that, if the event’s set up right down your street, you can stay at home between days, negating the cost of hotels or camping. Just make sure to avoid your parents on your way to your room at three in the morning. No one looks parent-presentable after a solid day of raving.
2. Pick cheap festivals
Does a $100 weekend festival ticket sound too good to be true? What about a $35-dollar ticket? Luckily, festivals such as Domefest and single day events like Kerfuffle exist and offer these killer prices. Sure, festivals such as Coachella or Tomorrowland get all the hype, but attending them takes a serious toll on the finances. Try opting for a cheaper festival instead. And don’t worry, even though the tickets prices are low the lineups still boost big names. AWOLNATION headlines Kerfuffle this year and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong make their highly anticipated appearance at Domefest every year. Still unsure of which music festivals to attend? You can find College Magazine’s list of cheap events here.
3. Buy tickets early
As soon as you plan on attending a music festival, grab those tickets. This move saves you money over buying them closer to the actual date because ticket prices rise as they begin to run out. The earliest packages sometimes price at $100 less than the average ticket, so grab them as soon as possible. But be careful. Oftentimes the first tier of tickets release before the lineups come out. Be certain you want to attend regardless of who’s performing. Also, don’t go to a festival to only see a certain artist. If Bassnectar comes down with influenza A the day prior to his set and can’t make the event, you’ll stress over a ticket to a festival you no longer want to attend. “I signed up for pre-sale alerts for all of the festivals I was interested in and took a gamble on the lineups. Prices are lowest when you get the early bird deals, so it was ideal for me,” Widener University senior Kayla Nelson said.
4. Get on a payment plan
Iffy about attending at all? Maybe you want to go but your first job interview awaits you during the same weekend as the festival. Maybe Cousin Martha can’t decide when she wants to have her wedding, usurping your plans to go to Burning Man, an event headlining your bucket list ever since you saw that episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Perhaps paying in smaller increments will make you feel better if you don’t end up going. Luckily, festivals like Firefly offer a payment plan which lops the grandiose ticket fee into more manageable chunks, usually in five payments of $50 to $60. If you need to cancel your ticket for whatever reason, you can get most of your money back.
5. Enter a contest
Winning $100 on a scratch off feels good, sure. But winning a free all-inclusive VIP package to a high-end music festival? You’ll struggle lifting your jaw up off the floor to tell your friends the good news. Many ways exist to obtain free festival tickets, including contests and sweepstakes. However, some enter-to-win deals bolster user involvement like propeller, a humanitarian coalition that partners with various artists and festivals to promote good causes while providing incentive through VIP packages and special events. If you sign up, you can enter to win different prizes like a full trip to one of the Electric Forest weekends (travel and lodging included) for you and a friend. You can earn points that help your chances in the contest by signing petitions, referring friends, donating and sharing your actions on social media.
A free music festival sounds great but not after that time you tried to sneak in as a Papa John’s delivery guy and got caught when security asked for a slice of cheese. Don’t worry—let bygones be bygones because a free and legal way to attend exists. Volunteering! Working jobs like bar backs, trash pick-ups or golf cart taxi drivers only takes up half of the day, leaving the evening open to enjoy the artists and activities. “It was cool getting to work with the production staff and being able to see all the organization that goes behind putting together an event of that size. Plus, everyone was super laid back and we had a lot of fun while we worked,” Florida State University senior Isabella Sirkis said.
7. Bring your own food and water
Running around and raving nonstop for three days works up a hefty appetite. Unfortunately, festival food and water bottles come in high demand, and vendors know it. A single bottle of Dasani costs you up to $5. On top of that, venders often jack up prices on meals because they know hungry patrons will cave. Don’t be those hungry patrons. Pack tons of snacks and meals to stuff in your fanny pack or leave behind at the campsite or hotel. You must also stay hydrated, so if permitted, bring your own water bottle into the grounds. If that fails, wear a camel back. For more info, read our top 10 music festival essentials.
8. Cut costs on costumes
You know all the types of festival goers: tie-dye toting, bandana wearing and flowery skirts covered in glitter rocking. While you want to look the part, keep in mind that your festival outfit faces dusty, sweaty and oftentimes rainy conditions for the better part of three days. Your clothes will get dirty. Some festivals such as the Halloween-eske Voodoofest hinge on creative and colorful costumes, so budget yourself knowing that while sticking out from the crowd seems fun, expect some apparel to get ruined. Besides, DIY costumes can look just as good as store bought costumes and cost twice as less.
You see things at a music festival that you won’t ever see in real life. And trust me you’ll want to remember them. That one fan that attempted to jump on the stage at Vince Staples only to be decked instantaneously by security. The literal string cheese that fell out the sky during the String Cheese Incident. The view from the top of the Ferris wheel as the cloud of breath seeped up from the audience during Damian Marley. What better to recall all that than buying a souvenir?
Wait until the last day to peruse the vendors for commemorative items and gear. This way you know how much of your money remains and what items linger in your price range. Some vendors slash their prices in an effort to drive up sales. If you really want to get your hands on some limited items like a t-shirt for that year, buy those items earlier as they often sell out fast. Stay away from buying albums or CDs because you can buy those anywhere. And don’t ever eat string cheese if you don’t know where it came from.
10. All the little things
Finally, consider all the little things in between, because tiny fees add up quickly. Are you in the military? Check to see if you get a discount. Take out your spending cash before the festival and bring it along with you. ATM withdraw fees can cost up to $5 with every transaction. Most importantly, bring your own alcohol. “Bring gallon Igloo jugs of water and use wet naps [to negate the cost of showers]” St. Petersburg College junior Alex Cloutier said. Throw together a first aid kit of the simple necessities to avoid running around looking for the medical tent after your 5’2” friend gets dropped in a mosh pit. And most importantly, have fun.